From top to bottom: "Mare Island Hoop Dance, California","Sage Grouse Flame Spirals, Utah", "Hawk Over Coalmine, Arizona", "Joy Spot Rock, Coalmine Canyon, Arizona", "The Ghost In The Distance, Coalmine Canyon, Arizona", "Kingman Wash Bridge, Arizona/Nevada State Line", "Abandoned Condos Behind The Venetian, Las Vegas, Nevada", "Nothing, Arizona". All images (c) 2014 Stu Jenks.
And feel free to message me on the StuBlog or on Facebook with your favorites. Not all images you'll see up here, in the coming weeks, will be in the show. Not by a long short. Financial limitations (framing, printing, etc) and space concerns (Wee Gallery is a wee little place) will dictate what's in the show. So if you like something, tell me. It will influence what I print and frame.
Folly: a building in the form of a castle, temple, etc, built to satisfy a fancy or conceit, often of an eccentric kind. (Collins English Dictionary)
Legend has it, that the folly atop The Biscuit of the Mustang Mountains was built by an eccentric/mentally ill/unemployable son of a wealthy rancher. “He takes care of The Biscuit,” my source said to me long ago. “It’s his job.” It’s been seven years since I’ve hiked to the top of The Biscuit. Many of the cairns marking the crude trail up have fallen down. (I repaired them as I climbed.) The trail is now hard to follow. The folly at the top is still in fine shape but I can’t help but wonder where the crazy son of the rancher is, perhaps living in a nursing home or just dead. I guess I’ll never know.
"Though none of us will live forever, our stories can. As long as one soul remains who can tell the story, the greater forces of love, mercy, generosity, and strength are continuously called into the world." - Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
Image: "The Old Man Of The Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland" (c) 2014 Stu Jenks.
...and I just ordered the first boxes of hardbound books. We are ahead of our scheduled July 7th release. I'll let you know when the books arrive. For those who would like to pre-order, just go to my squareup.com market page. And those of you in the Tucson area, Air & Gravity will be available at my studio, online of course, and at some other local outlets, one for sure being Tucson Touch Therapies.
The book looks and smells great. I'm very happy with Ingram, my printer. I think you will be too.
Image: "Dos Cabezas Thistle, Arizona" (c) 2014 Stu Jenks.
The first draft of the Step Zero Christmas book went to three readers. One liked it, except for the overly-long ending, but the two other readers said the exact same thing.
"It's OK," they said, with slight disappointment in their voices.
"Ah, shit," I said and chuckled.
I've now risen to a level of mediocrity.
So I felt sorry for myself for three days and then began a complete restructure and rewrite of the Step Zero Christmas book. A dramatic shift in focus, characters and plot. That's all I'll say. Don't want to spoil anything.
But I can't help but laugh.
Fifteen years ago, I would have argued my case when I hear, "It's OK," badgering my two readers with reasons that the novel was so much more then just OK. But I'm a bit humbly of an artist these days. I'm not particularly talented, don't you know, but I try to make up for that with hard work and an active imagination. I'm not God's gift to anything, but I do have a couple of skills, and I strive to make the best of what I have.
And I can do better than "It's OK."
Wish me luck in the rewrite. I don't know if I'll get this book out to you all by Christmas but I'll do my level best. It's all any of us can do, when you get right down to it, to do our level best.
P.S. The first sentence in the new second chapter is this:
"I’ve only been an angel ghost for 10 years, but it still makes me uneasy when a family member dies and we are all over here, waiting to catch them, as they pass over to our side of things."
Addemdum from May 23rd: Some confusion from my blog readers. I'm talking about the Step-Zero-Christmas-Book-In-Which-I'm-Saying-The-Title-Since-The-Title-Gives-Something-Away. I'm not speaking about Air & Gravity book. That's on track for its July 7th release.
The "Air & Gravity" cover with crops, bleeds, fold areas, etc. Thought you might enjoy seeing how the sausage is made. And the first edition will be a case laminate matte finished hardcover book, priced at $21.95.
Please give as you can. I really need your help this time.
The book is done. I just need the money to design it, print it and distribute it.
And there are gifts and rewards with each donation that will be mailed out promptly to you.
Thanks for whatever you can contribute. I know times are tough, but I believe you will enjoy reading book two of my Step Zero series. It's better than the first book, if I do say so myself.
"It better be," says the angel ghost off to my left. "You don't write everyday to get worse at it, do you?"
No. I don't.
Love, light and luck,
P.S. Update from 4/26/2014: I've raised over $800 as of this morning. Thanks so much. And since I've past a minimum amount, I will receive all the money given to pubslush.com. Fantastic. And the book will be published even if I have to put it on my credit card. I just don't want to do that obviously. Thanks again for giving and have a great week.
Image: "Catalina State Park, Arizona" (c) 2014 Stu Jenks.
On How To Write A Novel by Stu Jenks.
(This is just how I do things. There is more than one way to skin a cat, but there are commonalities between what I do and what other writer folk do. And to those of you writing your first novel, maybe, just maybe, this will help. It's why I'm writing this piece.)
1) I think about the story I want to tell, that I must tell. I don't think about it long. I have work to do.
2) I create the characters, make up their names, write their back stories. I write all these down in aseparate document that I add to as the novel progresses, as my characters grow, shrink and change.
3) I start the story in the middle of something big.
4) Now I write.
5) I write everyday or at least 5 days out of 7.
6) I write everyday until I'm boring myself, or I start lying or being cute, or until I'm just dried up. For me I write between 1 to 3 hours a day. I end my daily writing after I've started the next new chapter. Even it it's been a shitty writing day, I still right to the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next.
7) The next day, I go back and read what I've written the day before. Only the day before. I fix typos and add or edit a little here and there, but not too much. Then I start writing anew again. I stop when I reach the end of a chapter or when I'm dry or dull, which ever comes last.
8) I Repeat. I Repeat. I Repeat.
9) In about a year, I had my first novel. Sort of.
10) I then go back to the beginning of the novel and began reading it, fixing typos, syntax, and taking out the boring stuff and the stuff that doesn't fit or just sucks. This takes a while. About a couple to three weeks.
11) After I've done that, I find an content editor. A real editor. Someone I pay. I pay her well. Also, I find friends who will read my stuff. They are almost always right in how I've missed the bar. I listen to my editors and readers.
12) I then find a line editor to fix punctuation, syntax, misspellings, etc. I pay her well. As Stephen King and others have said: "To write is human, to edit, divine."
There are many more steps to getting my books to market. It's like putting a fattened hog in the back of a pickup truck to take it into town for slaughter. It takes a good deal of effort and it's not easy, but it's need to be done. Those steps I'll talk about later in another StuBlog post.
To sum up:
I think up a good story. A story I really need to tell. A story I want to read.
I write everyday. Even when I don't feel like it. Even when I'm writing shit. I write everyday.
I finish the first draft, warts and all. The road to Hell is paved with unfinished novels.
I give the book to my two editors and a friend or two. I listen to what they have to say.
I edit the book myself one last time.
And as I go into the printing/publishing/designing stage, I think about the next story I need to tell. And begin on that.
Step Zero, my first novel is out. Air & Gravity, the second novel, is at the second reader. And I'm working on the first draft of the third book now, a Christmas novella.